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Coastal development pressure on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Key finding

Changes to coastal habitat and reductions in connectivity are having an increasing effect on the Great Barrier Reef's Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

Great Barrier Reef (information applies statewide, map locations are for reference only)

Coastal development influences the Great Barrier Reef through both the legacy of past development actions, such as broad scale clearing of catchment habitats for agriculture, and smaller scale current and future actions for agricultural, urban, industrial and island development.

Coastal development activities can include modifying coastal habitats, constructing artificial barriers to flow, exposing acid sulphate soils as well as increasing artificial light and noise pollution. It diminishes the capacity of coastal habitats to provide ecosystem services such as recycling nutrients and capturing sediments, reduces connectivity between freshwater and marine habitats and affects coastal scenic vistas. Modification of coastal areas affects the Reef’s OUV, altering supporting habitat and connecting processes, and changing scenic vistas.

Coastal development has affected Indigenous heritage values. Unidentified near shore historic heritage values are vulnerable to modification and reclamation of the coast, dredging and disposal of dredge material.

More information:

Indicator: Coastal development

Coastal development pressure on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area as reported in the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014.

Condition dial - grade 2 (Poor) on a 1-4 scale

See also: Great Barrier Reef World Heritage assessment summary.

Last updated 8 January 2019

Assessment summary

See an overview of gradings for World Heritage in the assessment summary.